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Regular U.S. release, but out of print as of 2003.

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Buy it... only if you are one of the few people who have seen the film and seek the original neoclassical music written by Joel McNeely.

Avoid it... even if you are a McNeely enthusiast, for Samantha is among his most mundane works.
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WRITTEN 3/15/97, REVISED 2/12/06
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Samantha: (Joel McNeely) Among the plethora of suburban family-related films of the late 1980's and early 1990's that attempted the delicate balance between insightful drama and wicked comedy, Samantha remains an anonymous entry. The heroine of the story discovers on her 21st birthday that she was left on the doorstep of her adopted parents' home as an infant. She had been the terror of the neighborhood all her life, enacting stunts that would drive any parent or neighbor insane, and she becomes worse after she makes her major discovery. The determined girl (the titular Samantha, of course) launches a search for her biological parents, and in unlikely circumstances, finally confronts them in an strangely bizarre scene. Relevant to film music fans is the fact that girl is phenom on the violin, and a young neighbor of hers is an aspiring cellist, allowing for several on-screen performance scenes that required classical source music to be applied. The problem with the overall equation is that the film, shot by first-time director Stephen La Rocque, couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a drama or a comedy, and thus treats its characters with the same awkward ambivalence as a Cohen Brothers film. The combination of classical music and composer Joel McNeely's score in the film didn't assist in this dilemma, with McNeely's bouncy, often comedic score interspersed between performances of well known classical pieces that run both straight and serious in tone. The score came at a relatively early point in McNeely's career, before he had really established himself in the 1990's, and during the time when many in the industry still considered him a possible future replacement for John Williams. Even two decades later, McNeely had yet to become a featured name in major Hollywood blockbusters, but he has more than proven his viability in a number of genres, including both drama and comedy.

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Average: 2.58 Stars
***** 9 5 Stars
**** 9 4 Stars
*** 12 3 Stars
** 13 2 Stars
* 20 1 Stars
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Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 30:49
• 1. Samantha (3:59)
• 2. Samantha Submerged (1:45)
• 3. Video Nuisance (0:41)
• 4. Mrs. Schtumer's Fifth Symphony - Quartet (2:09)
• 5. A Very Special Gift (2:32)
• 6. "American" Quartet OP.96 - 1st Movement (Dvorak) (3:31)
• 7. Concerto for Flute and Harp - 2nd Movement (Mozart) (1:39)
• 8. Holy Water vs. 220 Volts (0:35)
• 9. Over the Edge (2:22)
• 10. Infant Abduction (1:54)
• 11. Quartet in C Major OP.74 No. 1 - 1st Movement (Haydn) (2:31)
• 12. "Harp" Quartet No. 10 OP.74 (Beethovan) (0:58)
• 13. Mrs. Schtumer's Fifth Symphony - Organ (1:57)
• 14. End Credits (3:57)

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The insert includes the following note from Joel McNeely:

    "Samantha, a film by Stephen LaRocque, is a story of a young violinist, who on her twenty-first birthday learns from her parents that she came to them by way of a wicker basket left on their front door step. The challenges of this score lay in capturing Samantha's capricious nature, the whimsy of her many flashbacks and fantastic daydreams and the true anguish with which she sought out her real parents.

    In addition to providing an underscore, music also plays a role in furthering the plot. When a young Samantha accidentally becomes locked in the church belfry, she is held an unwitting audience to a performance of the eccentric old church organist Mrs. Schtumer's, "5th Symphony". The music roils and boils into a feverish frenzy, leaving little Samantha temporarily deaf - the music forever imprinted on her brain. In composing "Schtumer's Fifth" I tried to introduce a theme catchy enough to stick in Samantha's ear. In addition I wanted it to be neoclassical and derivative of a few too many styles that don't quite go together, helping make Mrs. Schtumer seem slightly crazy.

    As Samantha is an accomplished musician, there is a rich variety of classical music entwined into the plot of the film. The string quartet literature was selected for not only its musical value, but its dramatic content as well. An added feature was that actor Dermot Mulroney, who plays the character Henry, the cellist, is actually a fantastic cellist himself, and played all of his own parts in the string quartets.

    I felt it was important to set the underscore apart musically from the chamber music in the film, so I opted for a small orchestral score in which I tried to capture Samantha's quirky ways. The main theme is comprised of a tune which is very active, jumps all around in register and hopefully conveys a whimsical feeling. The secondary theme is more singing and romantic.

    Working on this film was indeed a labor of love, as what composer could not love a film which treats music with such reverence and respect. I hope you have as much fun listening to this score as I had in creating it."
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Samantha are Copyright © 1992, Intrada Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 3/15/97 and last updated 2/12/06.
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